A few years ago I discovered by chance that, in the ’80s, a Mr E. D. Hirsch Jr. published a book titled “Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know” which listed the “5,000 essential concepts and names – 1066, Babbitt, Pickwickian — that educated people should be familiar with”. Mr Hirsch wrote that book because “children in the United States are being deprived of the basic knowledge that would enable them to function in contemporary society. They lacks. In December 2017 I finally found the time to make a public proposal for a “5000 concepts that every European needs to know” book. You can find all the details here and the corresponding FAQ here, and of course you can suggest as many concepts as you want directly in this Google Form. As of late February 2018, a few suggestions are already arrived, and I believe you will find their complete list quite interesting.

Giving both P2P and other visions their due space

You can support this “cultural provocation” in several ways, explained in the FAQ, but my main reason to present it here is another. As you can see yourself, the current list of suggestions, contains both too few, and at the same time too many P2P-related concepts.

The list contains too few P2P-related suggestions, because “P2P alternatives” is a really, really wide field. The concepts that the first participants have suggested so far only give a very partial idea of it. P2P advocates worldwide, but especially from Europe, please add your own suggestions!

When I say that the P2P-related suggestions are “too many”, instead, I simply mean that (SO FAR!)  they are too big a percentage of the total to make the whole list as comprehensive as it should be, to be of any help at all. This is just an obvious consequence of the fact that the first contributors mostly come from my own social circle,which likely contains much more P2P advocates than the average.

But no “foundation for a common cultural literacy” can be such, especially when assembled in a p2p-like way, if it is does not mentions concepts of as many different “categories”, human activities and points of view as possible. Even if the whole proposal is a provocation, with NO ambition to be THE best possible book of that kind… the more diverse its content is, the more  meaningful it becomes. But no single person, not even a new Leonardo da Vinci, which obviously I am not, could do a decent job alone. So I am here to ask everybody reading this post to please:

  • just go and add your own suggestions (that is the only way to collect suggestions!!!). The bottom of this posts suggests one possible way to do it quickly.
  • (above all) invite as many contacts as yours to add theirs, and spread the invitation

For any question, just email me. Last but not least, there is also a proposal for a “for-Italy-only” version of the same book, if you want to share that too!


Photo by angelaathomas

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